Request: Section prohibiting moderator action in case of CoI or involvement in a debate

Please by all means push to include a section about avoiding Conflict of Interest, and definitely its form when a person is involved in a debate they shall not use their moderator abilities to decide the debate in their favour; in a case they believe moderation is necessary they shall ask a fellow uninvolved moderator to act. (This is probably the natural default for most of the mods here around, but I have noticed some exceptions were it would visibly help to spell this out unambiguously.)

I don’t think that’s needed. The moderators already have to follow the OSMF WG Conflict of Interest Policy, which says that you definitely you aren’t allowed to vote at all. Any moderators who are not following that should be viewed as doing a poor job. Yes, I know which group doesn’t follow the CoI policy.


I strongly disagree.

There were cases (here around) where a moderator blackmailed their opponent to be banned (used as an argument).
It’s not about “voting”, it’s about not using the Powers for any case whatsoever where the person in question have been involved. I am well aware that it has been vaguely described in the CoI Policy, and it is not an accident that I have been specifically phrased it as “it should be explicitly spelled out because some people do not connect the dots”.

There were cases (here around) where a moderator blackmailed their opponent to be banned (used as an argument).

you can report such cases where you believe a mod has abused his powers to the board, so they can decide how to deal with it.

I prefer prevention instead of punishment.
If it’s obvious and clearly spelled out in moderation guidelines then rare violations are usually deliberate and justify the involvement of the Powers That Be. (That is my experience in my other smallish online project called “wikipedia”.)

I’ve split this off from the discussion on introducing global moderators because it is not directly related. (Presumably, this new section would apply both to the existing category moderators and any new moderator groups we introduce in the future.)

Please feel welcome to continue the discussion, though! I am personally open to highlighting the requirements of the OSMF CoI policy in the moderator selection criteria because, at the moment, this separate document isn’t as easily discovered.

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Conflict of Interest is a specific legal term, grounded in the Companies Act, and the OSMF board put in place guidelines which were extended to WGs, moderators, and some other groups.

Being involved a discussion and then moderating it is not generally a conflict of interest. Acting as a category moderator on some topic, and then acting as a general moderator is definitely not a conflict of interest, as the duties in both cases are to the OSMF, formally speaking.

We may want rules regulating these things, but let’s not try to force them into a specific legal framework where they don’t generally belong.


sure, who doesn’t, just that you cannot completely prevent such abuse.

Moderators tend to be reasonable, experienced people, so I guess if something is clearly written it is much easier to reason with them than a debate about a vaguely phrased suggestion.

Even if not, abuse is very easy to identify: you responded in the debate, then you acted using your moderator powers, strike one. (It is not that clear cut but generally it can be extended to warn moderators using their status for threatening opponents.)

And yes, I am fairly sure that this will be very rarely needed. Still, writing down even the obvious doesn’t hurt.

when I say “voting” I mean “voting to use your mod powers”, so the same thing.

oh that’s bad.

Yes-ish. CoI is useful term for “cases where you (but maybe someone else should) shouldn’t moderate”. That’s a sensible thing to have. in general.

I think “if you’re involved in a disagreement with an OSMer, you must not use your mod powers against the other person” is a good rule to have.

The current moderation team & etiquette guidelines were picked by the LCCWG moderation subcommittee and years ago they promised us a Conflict of Interest policy #1, but they never wrote that #2. oh well.

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